Firestone's safety push goes online

NASHVILLE, TN: Bridgestone/Firestone, seeking to repair its

battered public image, has launched, a new Web site.

The site displays the Firestone name and contains information about

proper tire maintenance. Visitors can register for e-mail alerts telling

them when to check tire pressure. A free tire gauge is being offered to

people who register.

Firestone's internal marketing personnel created Outside

PR agency Ketchum, taken on during the height of Firestone's tire recall

problems last year, was not involved, said Woody McMillin, manager of

motor sports and consumer products PR at Firestone.

The tire company hopes the site will show the public that 'we are

caring,' McMillin said. 'Bottom line: you have to have the highest

regard for customer safety. We and other tire manufacturers probably

have not done a good enough job of telling people how to maintain their


Firestone has pointed to improper tire inflation as one of the possible

causes for accidents involving its tires and Ford Explorer SUVs that

have resulted in at least 119 deaths and numerous lawsuits against the

tire maker and Ford.

'We've had some rocks thrown at us,' said McMillin. 'I don't think that

we've done a good enough job in talking about tire safety.'

The company will promote the new site on its corporate site, with Web

advertising, point-of-purchase displays at its Firestone stores and

through inserts in its Firestone credit card mailings.

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